The last holiday of winter is just about upon us. Brisket is being corned, and somewhere someone is searching for their green food coloring, even though no one anywhere has ever said, “I love green beer.”
Like sweet potatoes with marshmallows or ambrosia salad, it’s a tradition, like it or not.
Green beer aside, St. Patrick’s Day has a lot in common with Thanksgiving, in that there are prescribed foods that we enjoy as much because we love the leftovers as much or maybe even more than the initial meal. Now is the time to cook twice as much corned beef so we can make corned beef hash, spring’s equivalent of turkey soup.
Although corned beef is the most common St. Patrick’s Day dish, it is far from the only one to be enjoyed on a holiday that has long been misunderstood. The day has become a time to celebrate some of the more obvious foods of Ireland, with potatoes, lamb, barley salmon, and soda bread with honey butter among the most common holiday foods.
You’ll find recipes for Irish Lamb broth, Irish stew, classic Cheese Rabbit with several variations, colcannon, colcannon torte, potato soufflé, Shepherd’s Pie, steak and kidney pie, several types of soda bread and Irish coffee jelly at “Eat This Now” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.
St. Patrick did not rid Ireland of snakes; geography and climate make the northern country inhospitable to the cold-blooded creatures.
He is, however, credited with getting rid of them symbolically, in that he is said to have brought Christianity to the country, overshadowing Ireland’s long history of paganism, which counts among its symbols the serpent, a representation of fertility, rebirth and immortality.
Although Christianity was on the rise and Paganism was already in decline, its practices outlawed, by the time of his birth in 385, St. Patrick is still widely credited with both bringing about this religious shift and with ridding the country of snakes.
It doesn’t matter if it is true; it matters, simply, that we are celebrating together.
This extravaganza is inspired by and quite similar to the New England Boiled Dinner, which in turn resembles corned beef and cabbage, but with more root vegetables.
The most important element is the pot you use: Make sure it is big enough! If that’s a problem, cook the corned beef as directed until it is fully tender, about 3 hours, and then transfer it a slow (200 to 225 degrees) oven while you prepare the vegetables. If you are not feeding a crowd, feel free to cut the recipe in half.
When you want leftovers for making corned beef hash, use the full amount of meat and potatoes but just half of the other vegetables.
Sonoma Boiled Dinner: Corned Beef and Cabbage with Leeks, Root Vegetables, & Horseradish Cream
Serves 8 to 10
7-8 pounds, approximately, raw brisket of corned beef
1 pound salt pork or slab bacon, cut into small dice
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
3 whole small dried chiles or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs
3 Italian parsley sprigs
Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Migration, 2015 Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 14.1% alcohol, $68. ★★★★1/2
This is an impressive pinot noir that will turn heads because of its tangy red fruit coupled with edgy spice. These two forces make it a feisty pinot with a wild ride of aromas and flavors. It has notes of pomegranate, cranberry, raspberry and Asian spice. With bright acid, this pinot has great balance and a spicy finish. It’s striking.
Gary Farrell, 2015 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 13.9%, $45. ★★★★: This pinot is weighted to red with notes of wild strawberry, raspberry and pomegranate. Best of all it’s layered with spice from nutmeg to cinnamon to dried clove. It’s pretty and it has a nice price-point for budget-minded pinot fanatics.
Davis Bynum, 2015 Dijon Clone 667 Jane’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 14.5%, $55. ★★★★: What sets this pinot apart is its earthiness coupled with its bright fruit. With notes of leather, mushroom and forest floor, this pinot plays well with its feisty fruit flavors of cherry and pomegranate. Nice length. Smart.
Merry Edwards, 2015 Klopp Ranch, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 14.5%, $66. ★★★★: This is a complex pinot with layered notes of raspberry, Bing cherry, toast and cola. But what makes it a standout is its supple texture and its lush, lingering finish. Gorgeous.
MacRostie, 2015 Thale’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 14.3%, $56. ★★★★: This is a full-bodied pinot with notes of black cherry, blueberry and toast. It’s buoyed by crisp acid with plenty of upfront, generous fruit. Impressive.